Leah Renee, Pat Thornton and Jon Dore party on in very funny Stag.
STAG (Brett Heard). 83 minutes. Opens Friday (January 25). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Stag starts out like an obvious Hangover rip-off but soon becomes a likeable pre-mid-life buddy picture bolstered by some terrific performances by local actors.
Thirty-something Ken (Scrubs' Donald Faison) is a certified asshole who's cruelly pranked his friends at their stags. Now that he's about to get hitched, his buddies are seeking payback. Their puerile plan involves a stripper, Viagra and indelible ink, but naturally things keep going wrong.
Writer/director Brett Heard is used to working in TV, so the rhythms and pace for his feature debut seem a bit off. Some characters need shading, and the film could use another act.
But he has a great eye and ear for comedy, and the talented actors, while never mugging, make the jokes fly. Ken has a hilarious early scene with his assistant, Mary (Sugar Lyn Beard), in which she tells him he's a dick. Pat Thornton nails his scenes as a movie extra who's got a thing for a starlet (Eva Amurri). Brendan Gall and Jon Dore establish great rapport as a couple of slacker workers, with Dore absolutely killing a couple of awkward moments between his character and the exotic dancer (Leah Renee).
But the funniest scenes belong to Tony Nappo and Jefferson Brown as a couple of contrasting friends who protest too much about their heterosexuality. It's a silly gag, but it pays off every time.